$6,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park
Race 12 (Saturday, November 2, 2019: 8:44 p.m./ET: 5:44 p.m./PT)
Mile and a quarter on the main track (three-year-olds and upward)
The Breeders Cup Classic (G1) is everything a horse racing fan wants to see in a championship race: the highest quality of competition meeting up for a shot at a ‘Horse of the Year’ title and a competitive betting event, with overlays on equine superstars you won’t find in any other race. A field of 11 has been assembled, so let’s analyze every runner:
#1 MATH WIZARD won his last start, the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), at odds of 31/1. Now he must face older horses while also going up against the best dirt horses in North America. His rider in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), Irad Ortiz Jr., opts to ride #10 VINO ROSSO, so Ricardo Santana Jr. picks up the mount. Will go off at a price again.
#2 SEEKING THE SOUL won the Stephen Foster (G2) in good looking fashion but has been no match for #7 HIGHER POWER, #8 MCKINZIE and #9 MONGOLIAN GROOM in two subsequent races, the Pacific Classic (G1) and Awesome Again (G1). Hi trainer is always dangerous with longshot runners, but form reversal is needed for him to be competitive.
#3 OWENDALE has steadily progressed for high percentage trainer Brad Cox. This three-year-old colt by INTO MISCHIEF comes in off a win in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park and earlier this year, ran third in the Preakness (G1) behind #4 WAR OF WILL and fifth in the Travers (G1) to #11 CODE OF HONOR. Is a notch or two below the best signed on.
#4 WAR OF WILL was third in the Pennsylvania Derby (G3) behind #1 MATH WIZARD and has failed to win in three starts since winning the Preakness (G1) last May. Blinkers go on today, but speed figures indicate he will need to run faster if he wants to be competitive at this level. Siding with others.
#5 YOSHIDA (JPN) freshens up for trainer Bill Mott after a runner up finish behind #8 MCKINZIE in the Whitney (G1) and a third-place finish against PRESERVATIONIST in the Woodward (G1). One (of his two) efforts at 10 furlongs resulted in a length-and-three-quarter loss last year against ACCELERATE in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). In a race with many ways to go, he should be listed as a contender.
#6 ELATE looks to end her racing career with a triumphant victory against males in the ‘Classic. Second Bill Mott trainee is undefeated at this 10-furlong distance (three-for-three) but, in all three starts, ran against easier company than what she finds here. She lost by a nose two races ago to champion MIDNIGHT BISOU in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga, but her most recent afternoon appearance, a second-place finish behind Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) contender BLUE PRIZE, was average. She’ll need to put her best food forward to win this one.
#7 HIGHER POWER was fantastic in the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar, racing away to a five length score while defeating #9 MONGOLIAN GROOM in the process. He suffered a disastrous trip in his last start, the Awesome Again (G1), after stumbling at the break, sitting too far off the speed and flattening out for third after producing a mid-race move. He is expected to sit close to the lead in this spot and the pace is projected to be moderate, so that works to his advantage. Kosta Hronis and John Sadler team up with this son of MEDAGLIA D’ORO and they won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) with ACCELERATE. In with a good shot.
#8 MCKINZIE has never finished worse than second in seven starts over the Santa Anita main track. The Bob Baffert trainee was last seen running a mediocre second behind MONGOLIAN GROOM in the Awesome Again (G1). There are questions as to whether this colt will be at his best going a mile-and-a-quarter. That said, his two-back effort, a victory over #5 YOSHIDA and #10 VINO ROSSO in the nine-furlong Whitney (G1) at Saratoga, was fantastic, and he only lost by a nose in the 10-furlong Santa Anita Handicap (G1) earlier this year. Joel Rosario rides for the first time.
#9 MONGOLIAN GROOM went to the lead, set easy fractions and turned away challenges from #8 MCKINZIE and #7 HIGHER POWER to win the Awesome Again (G1) last month. He may be close to the pace again here but figures to get pressure this time. Off his last start, he merits respect.
#10 VINO ROSSO finished six lengths behind #8 MCKINZIE and #5 YOSHIDA in the Whitney (G1) two starts ago and most recently hit the wire first in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), only to be disqualified for interference in the stretch. His last start was a terrific effort, no doubt, and he might be peaking at the right time. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount for trainer Todd Pletcher; Contender.
#11 CODE OF HONOR has had an outstanding three-year-old campaign for Hall of Famers Shug McGaughey and John Velazquez, racking up wins in the Fountain of Youth (G2), Dwyer (G3), and Travers (G1). Most recently, the son of NOBLE MISSION ran second to #10 VINO ROSSO in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) but was moved up to first via disqualification. He is two-for-three when racing this mile-and-a-quarter distance, but there is not a ton of front running speed signed on and this colt likes to sit off and make one run. He is at the mercy of the pace but enters as a legit contender.
1. #7 HIGHER POWER - Pacific Classic (G1) repeat would be good enough to win it.
2. #8 MCKINZIE - Never runs a bad race over this track.
3. #11 CODE OF HONOR - Terrific three-year-old is a throwback, classic distance horse.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY: #3 OWENDALE - Improving three-year-old is an exotics play at a big price.
I’ll box my top three picks in exactas and make a straight win bet on my top choice.
BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$5 Exacta Box: #7 HIGHER POWER and #8 MCKINZIE and #11 CODE OF HONOR ($30).
$20 Win: #7 HIGHER POWER
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